BASEBALL IS BACK! For the first time in a LONG time, all 30 teams are playing on the same day in an all-day extravaganza, and we get to throw our money into the ring right away. We’ve had a monster week in the NBA on FTA leading up, so let’s parlay it into some cold hard cash for baseball. FanDuel’s main slate begins at 3:05 and has 12 games to deal with. One thing that will be different this year (at least so far), is how to handle the C/1B slot, so for now I’ll start with 1B as the first hitting position I write up after pitcher and just list some catcher punts that are viable. Things may change as we go along but we have to explore the proper way to build optimals with the new settings. All right, enough chitchat. Let’s get to the picks, and make sure to join us in FTA+ chat tonight and follow me on twitter @jac3600.
Clayton Kershaw, LAD ($11,700)
Ho hum. We’ll start the year off with old reliable Kershaw. The only issue he ever brings is whether he’s worth his price tag in cash, and today I believe he is. There are tons of underpriced hitters which makes it easier to roster Kershaw and one big bat (Stanton – more on that later), and even all the other studs on the slate don’t rival Kershaw (especially with Scherzer being rained out). The Giants did add a couple of lefty mashers in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, but they still have the lowest IRT on the slate at 2.7 runs and Kershaw is a -263 favorite which is the highest on the slate. Ty Blach will take the hill opposite Kershaw, so I don’t see any way you don’t get the win here.
Other options – Corey Kluber, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, Justin Verlander
Mid-tier options – Aaron Nola, Chris Archer, Garrett Richards
Julio Teheran, ATL ($6300)
There is no way you can roster Teheran in cash due to the huge opportunity cost at SP today, but he’s insanely cheap and he allows you to stack some big time offenses around him in GPPs. Philly has a modest 4.2 IRT, but they struck out the third most against RHP last season and don’t offer much in the way of elite lefty power (which is Teheran’s bugaboo). He’s your best path to a full stack of Yankees and Astros, who are the top two offenses for me today.
Other options – Jon Gray, Danny Duffy, Chase Anderson, Patrick Corbin
Gary Sanchez, NYY ($3900)
This is weird, and I can see it being one of few times I pick a catcher over ALL the first basemen on the slate, but 1B is a position of value for me today, and Sanchez will hit cleanup for the Yanks who have an IRT of 4.7 runs against J.A. Happ. They have ridiculous right-handed depth against Happ who has allowed 1.29 HR/9 to RHB over the last three years, and Sanchez is quite possibly the best pure hitter on the Yankees. I don’t think you fit him into cash, but he’s a great play in GPP and a keystone to a Yankees stack.
Other options – Paul Goldschmidt, Freddie Freeman, Edwin Encarnacion
Lucas Duda, KC ($2500)
The Royals are your go-to source for value today. They get to face James Shields who has been a gas can the last two seasons (2.01 HR/9 allowed and a .376 wOBA to LHB). Duda is hitting cleanup for the Royals today, and he had a .298 ISO against RHP last season (and he’s maintained a .236 mark for his career). Take advantage of the cheap Royals, and their IRT of five runs.
Other options – Carlos Santana, Ryan Braun, Chris Davis, Joey Gallo, Logan Morrison, Joe Mauer
Catcher punt options – Evan Gattis, Austin Barnes, Chris Iannetta
Jose Altuve, HOU ($4300)
The Astros are a top stack against Cole Hamels, who saw his K/9 plummet to a career low 6.39 last season. Texas is one of the few positive hitting environments today, and Hamels is backed by a bullpen that ranked 28th in xFIP a year ago. There are better spends in cash, but Altuve is the ultimate five-tool player with a premier lineup spot.
Other options – Brian Dozier
Jonathan Schoop, BAL ($3400)
Baltimore is a sneaky source of fantasy output today. They’re facing a quality pitcher in Jake Odorizzi, but Vegas still has them down for a 4.9 IRT with their immense power upside. Jake Odorizzi allowed 2.08 HR/9 to RHB last year and has been a career reverse split pitcher. Schoop enjoyed a breakout year with a .200 ISO, and should hit second in the order.
Other options – Whit Merrifield, Ian Kinsler, D.J. LeMahieu, Jason Kipnis
Nolan Arenado, COL ($4300)
Like Altuve, Arenado is an elite GPP but doesn’t seem to fit the mold for cash. He’s in Arizona today so we’ll have to see how the humidor winds up affecting things, but I still think it’s going to be a tad overrated and Arizona will continue to be an elite hitting environment. Arenado has crushed LHP over the last two years with a .416 wOBA and .301 ISO, and remains an elite fantasy bat.
Other options – Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano
Tim Beckham, BAL ($2800)
As long as Beckham leads off (and avoids the DL), he’s a solid source of salary relief for an Orioles team whose IRT is climbing as I write this. I mentioned Odorizzi’s struggles with righties, and Beckham posted a very usable .171 ISO against RHB since joining Baltimore last season. The Twins bullpen is also nothing to write home about, although the acquisition of Addison Reed will help.
Other options – Alex Bregman, Mike Moustakas, Jake Lamb
Manny Machado, BAL ($3900)
We season-long players will have to wait a few games before Machado becomes SS eligible, but FanDuel has gone ahead and jumped the gun on it for us. This is a classic tale of a reverse-split pitcher meeting a reverse-hitter, as Machado has posted a .357 wOBA and .237 ISO against RHP over the past two seasons. He’s a tad underpriced for the upside he brings today, and is a prime target if you’re uncomfortable with the values at the position.
Other options – Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager
Trevor Story, COL ($3100)
Story’s batting order spot will determine his real value, as it could be anywhere from fourth to eighth. However, he’s in what SHOULD be a prime hitting environment, and he’s popped off an incredible .415 wOBA and .335 ISO against LHP in his career. The K downside is high for Story, but he’s got GPP-winning upside.
Other options – Elvis Andrus, Marcus Semien, Pat Valaika
Giancarlo Stanton, NYY ($4600)
You only get one big bat if you roster Kershaw, but I’m making a big time effort to make Stanton be that guy. Picture this – Stanton posted a .410 wOBA and .350 ISO last season in a pitcher-friendly park with not near as much of a supporting cash around him, and now gets massive upgrades in both those departments. Toronto is one of the more friendly environments for right-handed power, and Stanton has been the ultimate lefty-killer. He’s my inaugural #DFSHRcall, even though that’s a chalky pick.
Other options – Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, Charlie Blackmon, George Springer, Rhys Hoskins
Jon Jay, KC ($2000)
Jay’s career .095 ISO robs him of any sort of GPP-winning upside on this slate, but he’s a great cash punt on your way to getting both Kershaw and Stanton in while building a competitive lineup anyway. Jay is leading off on the road for the Royals, which is a terrific spot to be in as he could get five plate appearances against the worst pitcher on the slate (James Shields) and a bullpen that ranked dead last in xFIP last season after trading away ALL of their top relievers.
Other options – Wil Myers, Adam Jones, Eddie Rosario, Yasiel Puig, Trey Mancini, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Hicks, Curtis Granderson, Nick Williams, Colby Rasmus